All About West Highland White Terriers

About This Breed

The "Westie" is known for its friendly, strong-willed personality and a remarkably bright white coat. It’s a real terrier with tons of courage, confidence, determination and loyalty packed into a tiny body.

Physical Characteristics

The short-coupled, small, and compact body of the Westie allows it to fit into narrow passages like the dens of foxes. In such places, it is impossible for the dog to turn as well, though its short legs allow it to move. The dog’s sharp teeth and strong jaws help it attack foxes in closed areas. 

COLOR(S) 

White

COAT 

Dense undercoat and rough outer coat

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL 

High 

POSITIVES

The happy and inquisitive West Highland White Terrier is always busy and involved in something. At the same time, it is among the friendliest and most affectionate of terriers.

THINGS TO CONSIDER 

This independent dog with a stubborn streak has a tendency to dig and be vocal. The West Highland White Terrior may be demanding and does not behave in an amicable way with small animals.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

Even though the Westie loves the outdoors, it can also become a proper indoor dog if it is given regular exercise outside. A moderate or short on-leash walk or a good game outdoors every day can meet the dog’s exercise needs.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in the West Highland White Terrier:

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)
  • Copper toxicosis
  • Patellar luxation 
  • Cataract
  • Legg-Perthes Disease
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)
  • Globoid cell leukodystrophy
  • Skin Diseases
  • Deafness

History and Background

The West Highland White Terrier, as well as other Scottish terriers, share similar roots and the former is a very good hunter of fox, vermin, and badger. There was a time when the Skye, Cairn, Scottish, and Westie Terriers were regarded as one breed that had some diversity. Selective breeding using qualities like coat color or type may have developed distinct varieties, which could have been maintained in isolation in different areas of the Scottish mainland and some western islands.

In 1907, the West Highland White Terrier was popular for the first time as the Poltalloch Terrier living with Col. E.D. Malcolm, who had bred short-legged white terriers in the past. Over the years, different names like Cairn, Roseneath, Poltalloch, Little Skye, and White Scottish have been given to this breed.

In 1908, the American Kennel Club registered the breed for the first time as the Roseneath Terrier, but in 1909, the name was altered to West Highland White Terrier. The breed has established itself as a popular house dog and a competitive show dog ever since.